Tablet Review: MSI WindPad 110W with Windows 7

MSI’s WindPad 110W is a typical MSI product: really nice hardware, but terrible software.  I’m not alone in thinking this – NewEgg and Amazon‘s reviews all pretty much concur.  The only poor choice for hardware could be said to be the SSD, which is not speedy enough to compensate for Window’s slow SSD read/writes.  However, this tablet is an excellent choice for the techno geek in your life as it is easy to upgrade and fun to play with, and there’s lots of activity going on on the official MSI forum.

MSI WindPad 110W - Front View

Hardware Specs

CPU AMD Brazos Dual Core Z01+HD6250
*** NOTE: 64 bit ***

*** NOTE: clock speed: 1Ghz ***

*** NOTE: L1 cache: 128kB, L2 cache: 1MB ***
OS Windows® 7 Home Premium x64
Memory 4GB (Max Support to 4GB)
204-Pin DDR3 SO-DIMM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10660)
*** NOTE: 8GB RAM works but is not “supported” ***
LCD Size 10″ IPS wide view multi-touch screen
1280×800 max resolution
Graphics AMD HD 6250
*** NOTE: 256MB shared ***
HDD (GB) 32GB/64GB (SSD)
Webcam Dual Camera (Front 1.3M / Rear 1.3M)
Card Reader SD/SDHC
Wireless LAN 802.11b/g/n
Bluetooth 2.1 EDR
GPS Yes
HDMI out mini-HDMI
USB 2.0 port 1
Built in mic Yes
Audio in jack No
Audio out jack
(headphone)
Yes
AC Adapter 12V / 1.5A
*** NOTE: Cord is REALLY short, about 1m ***
Battery 4200mAH / 31.08whr
Dimension 271 x 183 x 15.5mm
Weight (KG) 0.85
Dedicated
buttons:
Volume up/down.
Power.
Rotation lock.
Clickable mouse pad.

The power cord is quite short and annoying located on the bottom of the display when it’s on the default orientation, making it impossible to prop up while plugged in without eventually destroying the power jack.

A nice bonus is the built in GPS, something you don’t see in many non-SIM card capable devices.

There is no built in DVD/CD.

Performance

High powered for a mobile/tablet, but low powered for a notebook.  Definitely not a gaming rig, but more than good enough for playing video.  The SSD and 4GB RAM compensates well for the lower end but power saving CPU and graphics card.

Probably the most noticeable issue is the frequent freezes while Windows tries to read or write from the SSD, often lasting 5-10 second.  This is especially problematic when downloading in the background (such as with Windows Update).  This is primarily a Windows problem, however – the delays all but disappear when using Linux.  Upgrading to a speedier mSATA SSD such as the Mushkin Chronos will make this issue evaporate however.

Linux

This unit flies under Linux Mint, but unfortunately too many of the hardware components don’t work such as auto-rotate, the web cams and the GPS.

Windows 8

There is a noticeable speed improvement with Windows 8, so it’s worth the $15 to upgrade.  Be sure to install MSI’s oEasy and Dual Camera Switch and .NET 2 or the web cams and auto-rotate will not work and it’ll be difficult to enable bluetooth and GPS.  (these are absolutely terrible programs, btw – you’ll never use them again, but you can’t have the full hardware experience without them)  MSI also has Windows 8 drivers available for download.

General Notes

Touch Screen

The touch screen is very sensitive and accurate – a good piece of hardware.  After running the Tablet Calibration from the control panel and switching the Display properties to 125% my big fat fingers had no problems hitting the right thing every time.  Pinch to zoom and multi-touch also work splendidly.

Web Cams

Both web cams worked after the initial install, but failed after the first reboot.  Apparently MSI is investigating this, so hopefully a fix will be out soon.

Hard Drive

Get the 32GB model and then upgrade the hard drive yourself to something like the Mushkin Chronos.  32GB is too small for anything but the Windows and a few programs, so you should upgrade to a 64GB or larger SSD.  You should also get a large (32GB+) SD card for documents, downloads, caches, etc. to save wear and tear on the SSD.

RAM

The docs say that only 4GB are supported.  However, many people have reported that 8GB works just fine.  Many manufacturers only support certain hardware configurations, and so the specs can be misleading.  Personally, I think this is because it was too much of a support headache during the early days when 64 bit systems were coming on to the market to explain to customers why their computer COULD have more than 4GB of RAM installed, the 32 bit operating system their computer came with wouldn’t recognize it.

Windows + Flash Drive/SD Card “Write Protected Quirk

Windows kept regularly telling me that it couldn’t write to USB flash drives or SD cards because they were write-protected.  This is one of those Windows things where it tries to protect you and goes too far… it interprets FAR too many conditions as “write protected” when they are in fact not.  To get around this, I had to manually add the registry entry HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\StorageDevicePolicies with the DWORD (32-bit) value WriteProtect set to zero.

Recovery Disks

This is somewhat stupid: the recovery disks are DVDs, but the WindPad doesn’t have a built-in DVD drive.  You need to get a USB DVD drive if you want to use these.  It would have made infinitely more sense to include a bootable USB flash drive.  I still haven’t discovered a way to get the DVD media onto a flash drive (simply burning the first ISO and then copying over the contents of the second didn’t work – it booted, but froze on the loading screen).

Installing Linux or Android

The hard drive has a very wacky partitioning scheme that isn’t usable by a regular partition, either Windows or Linux live CD based.  If you want both Windows and Linux it seems you need to format the drive completely, install Windows from scratch, then install Linux or Android.

Note: Android x86 runs beautifully on this machine, but like under Linux the web cams and GPS don’t work.

Final Thoughts

  • It’s a nice tablet with good specs for everything except gaming.
  • It needs to have the SSD drive upgraded if you’re going to use it with Windows, and be sure to get at least 4GB of RAM.
  • Not recommended for the average user unless it had already been upgraded by a technically inclined person.
  • Definitely worth upgrading to Windows 8 if you’re going to be using this as a casual media and internet tablet.
p5rn7vb
Posted in How To, Windows Tagged with:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Contact Us

Email: info@nullTechAlberta.ca
Phone: 780.628.3515
We service the Edmonton metropolitan area, including Sherwood Park and St. Albert. I'm available over live video on Helpouts - Get a Helpout

TechAlberta.ca is part of My Solutions IT